Nearly a month after the release of “shETHER,” Nicki Minaj has two of the most added songs on radio, while Remy Ma still tends to struggle with rapping on beat and finding a fan base who will support her beyond seven minutes.
Already, one imagines select readers will scream that I am a Minaj fan, and thus I have a biased opinion that ought to be rendered null and void. Feel free to shout it a few times more in your mind. Have a sip of water next. Great; we can all move on now that y’all have gotten it out of your systems.
Unlike many of the people who passed around “shETHER,” I listened to Remy Ma’s debut album, There’s Something About Remy; her most recent effort, the collaborative Plata O Plomo with Fat Joe; and many of the mixtapes that dropped in between, like 2014’s I’m Around and 2007’s Shesus Khryst. I’m also familiar with previous Remy Ma diss tracks aimed at Lil’ Kim, like “When I See Her” and “Dat Thing,” which, like “shETHER,” flips a famous track into a lengthy diss at some female rapper more successful than she is.
Remy can rap, but if most people can’t name five songs of hers, what does that tell you? Seven minutes can only get you so far, especially when you’re taking on someone who has been the lone dominant woman in rap for a smooth seven years. That’s why so much of her beef with Minaj feels like déjà vu, in that a lot of casual listeners will big her up for a hot diss record (or one of them, anyway) but not do anything to help her avoid a future episode about her career on TV One’s Unsung.
Worse, Remy blew it the moment she released “Another One,” a track that’s a mix of desperation and dated production while reeking of all that gas folks put in her tank for coming at Minaj. Picture Scrappy Doo swinging against a big monster, only to fall on his tiny-ass tail. This is “Another One,” only it’s scored by the sounds of 2003.
Yet, let some folks tell it, Minaj was somewhere in a corner, crying through at least two fake accents, hoping and praying to EDM Jesus that Reminisce leaves her be so she won’t destroy her career. Much of this mirrors the responses to Lil’ Kim’s “Black Friday,” which took direct aim at Minaj. Who remembers the Baltimore rapper Keys the Problem, who also dissed Minaj? She and Kim eventually became fake friends for a few seconds over a shared hatred of Minaj. I don’t know where Keys is presently, but I hope she’s having a chicken box and peace of mind.
But yes, much like now, folks swore all of this would hurt a then-rising Minaj. You know, because “real rappers” were challenging her. What actually happened was that Pink Friday went double platinum and no one listened to Lil’ Kim’s mixtape, although we all did hear the barrage of disses Minaj sent by way of her singles or songs she was featured on.
The same will happen soon enough, which means that for much of 2017, on various radio formats and at various clubs and bar mitzvahs, many will be singing along with lines bashing Remy Ma.
For some, that is not real hip-hop. As someone from the South who very much enjoys Southern rap, I’ve heard cries of what is and isn’t hip-hop as far back as the original airings of Tiny Toon Adventures. In sum, fuck all of that. Minaj has taken a similar approach, and we see how that’s turned out.
Coincidentally, these are the very folks who have never given Minaj her due and very likely never will. The types who will tout many of the great women in rap of yore, but not contend with the notion that a more contemporary market wasn’t all that accommodating to female rappers who didn’t occasionally board a starship (for the record, I fucking hate that song). The kind who will continue to force themselves to believe that Minaj’s ex Safaree Samuels is the Mister Geppetto to her Pinocchio.
Pop quiz: If Web Browser was so instrumental in making her, why hasn’t he made himself a rap star?
These are the ones who exalt “shETHER” but don’t have much to say about Remy Ma outside the context of, she lit up Nicki Minaj’s ass for several minutes over an instrumental that perfectly encapsulates their love of all things Throwback Thursday and Flashback Friday.
I listened to “shETHER” on Soundcloud, too, and my mouth fell open. Remy hurt my feelings. Even so, will I be playing that in the future? No, and it’s unlikely that many others will, either.
That’s why, as adorable as it was to see Remy Ma dressed like a classy hood auntie at her best frenemies’ funeral and declare her rival dead on daytime TV, Nicki Minaj is doing just fine—so fine that now her old music is rising in sales. But if you’re going to diss someone twice in a few days, why bother apologizing for your actions after the fact?
“I do not condone or recommend the tearing down of another female,” Remy Ma said on BuzzFeed’s Another Round podcast. “That’s not what I do. Anybody that knows me knows that I embrace females. I always want to do some girl-oriented thing. I think we work so much better when we work together and when we help each other.”
Remy referred to Foxy Brown as a “deaf bitch” on “shETHER,” and based on the snippet that leaked, the legendary hearing-impaired emcee sure heard it.
Foxy Brown made “Hot Spot.” She deserves some respect. I’m not sure what Foxy Brown did to Remy Ma, but her name alone was enough to stop Remy Ma from working with Nicki Minaj. Yeah, for all the talk about Minaj never wanting to work with other women, she apparently did try with Remy—only she passed.
Last November, Remy Ma explained to Rap-Up:
No, that was never recorded. When we discussed it, she actually said, “Don’t tell anybody. It’s top secret.” So the fact that she disclosed that information is beyond me. I don’t think that’s what people wanted to hear, that combination. That was just my personal decision so I didn’t want to do that. [Foxy Brown is] her friend so I can understand that, but I was gone for a long time. If you wanted to do a song with your friend, do a song with your friend. They could have did that song without me. I don’t understand what that was.
It was a missed opportunity, beloved.
Lady Luck may still be annoyed by the results of past rap battles with Remy Ma, but she did not tell a lie in a recent interview when she said that not many female rappers (besides Foxy Brown) were all that supportive of Minaj when she was rising. It doesn’t excuse accusations of blocking other folks from hitting the red carpet or receiving awards, but the poor-lil’-Rem-Rem act screams Tyler Perry-play levels of realistic portrayals of events.
Had Remy Ma just dropped the first song and quickly gone about her business, maybe she would have been OK. But she went on a publicity tour with the song, performed it live and then proceeded to release another song less than a week after the first.
I hope Remy Ma enjoys a second hit with Fat Joe in “Money Showers,” but after that, I encourage her to try a few new things, like embracing breath control and rapping on beat. Likewise, if past beefs she’s had are any indication, the attention she enjoyed in recent weeks is fleeting, and those “fans” lighting her up online will go back to requesting an Amber Alert to identify other tracks from her catalog.
So, here’s hoping she focuses really, really hard on Seven Winters & Six Summers so that she finally has a successful solo album. Ultimately, regardless of what you see on various timelines, Nicki Minaj has a sizable and committed fan base. Remy Ma still does not.
I don’t want to get shot for pointing out the obvious, but I also don’t want Remy Ma to end up the female Canibus, either.